May 16, 2022
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Roe v Wade

The likely reversal of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court of the United States tells us many things about the legal and political world south of our border. In fact, it tells us much about us, too.


It tells us that the Common Law is always amenable to change, even reversal, with the tides of political and social change. It teaches us about the delicate balance between the courts and the legislature. It tells us that the courts actually do make policy, which normally outrages right wingers unless the policy is something they like.


We can also learn that there is a price to pay for judicial laziness. Even such a left-leaning jurist as Ruth Bader Ginsburg felt that Roe had been decided on frail grounds, and that there had been a far more sound, legally robust, and unassailable basis which should have been used– in other words, the court which decided Roe built it on such a shaky foundation that the current court could easily push it over.


That said, the draft decision of Alito appears to suffer from exactly the same kind of judicial laziness and “end justifies the means” decision making. Relying as he appears to do on Elizabethan legal authority Sir Edward Coke and the even earlier Henry of Bracton, Alito tips us off that he doesn’t have much current jurisprudence in his corner, either.


But the reaction of many left wingers to Alito citing Coke is also telling– they attack the man, not his message. They rage that Coke was a horrible, racist misogynist. Well, yes, actually he was. But so was almost everybody in the late 1500s. That ought not to detract from his significant achievements.


Burning books and toppling statues is just as childish at the hands of left wingers as it is at the hands of right wingers. Even bad people have done good things. Nobody should have to live in the dark just because Edison and Tesla had some unsavoury ideas. So name-calling Alito for relying on Sir Edward Coke is just schoolyard silliness.


Overturning Roe, whether the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do, is being done inelegantly, insensitively, and at a time when America needs healing, not more incendiary division. That the Supreme Court of the United States is in the hands of politically appointed amateurs is now abundantly clear, and terrifying. So is the fact that the political class is reduced to shrill name-calling.


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Friday Briefing Archives


“The world isn't fair, Calvin."

"I know Dad, but why isn't it ever unfair in my favor?”

Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes
(Yeah, I know this was here last week, but ain't it appropriate for this week, too?)

He is not cheated who knows he is being cheated.

Sir Edward Coke

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I am an explainer, that is, I deconstruct complexity and re-frame it in understandable terms.

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